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Abortion at 38 Weeks: A Thought Experiment?


Soldier of the One

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I realize this could be a potentially explosive thread for which I apologize in advance. But I am posting this because I genuinely want to work through some of the moral and philosophical issues and through my own discomfort.

First, full disclosure: I am pro-choice and I will defend those rights to the death. I believe the woman's rights trump the baby's rights as long as the baby cannot exist as a viable entity outside of the womb. Given the advances in modern medicine and the lowering age of micro-preemies, I know how problematic this stance is, but I simply can't really thing of a better way to juggle both mother's and baby's rights. So, I guess that means that I am comfortable with elective abortions up to and including 24, 25 weeks. Medical abortions (fetus not viable, suffering of mother or fetus, mother's life under threat) are a different matter entirely and deserve far more leniency, IMHO.

I don't believe 'life begins at conception', well, as long as we don't define it as human life in its traditional form. Is it a life-form? Yes. That doesn't mean that it is on equal existential footing as a fully developed post-partum baby or a human being. One has to factor in fetal development into the abortion discussion. I am not sure if I know of another way to hold the discussion although I am gladly shown alternatives if there are.

At the same time, I do have certain reservations about elective abortion under certain circumstances. Yet I know that those are my reservations and mine alone and I would never want to legislate them. I might not make that choice but I cannot stand in the shoes of the woman who does and I will support her autonomy to make that choice till the ends of the earth. (I also am not sure what choices I would or would not make until I am presented with the actual situation. It would be arrogant hubris to suggest otherwise).

Having said all that, I read this article in the Forward with both great fascination and great discomfort:

http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blo ... -abortion/

I knew that you wanted me to say no, that under no circumstance should a woman in her third trimester be able to have an abortion — that anyone who thought such a thing is unredeemably evil. And my instinct was to say no, because I felt unprepared to deal with the consequences of telling the truth. I managed to say that I think a decision like that should be between a woman and her doctor. But that was not the answer you wanted.

What I would have said is that a woman should be trusted with all decisions related to her body, and so yes, an abortion needs to be an option at every point of pregnancy. Either you trust women or you don’t. It’s that simple.

I disagree with the the counterargument presented in the article - that a woman under no circumstance should have a third trimester abortion. But I would say it is something to be very, very cautious about. On the other hand, I am not convinced that the dichotomy the writer sets up is helpful: either we trust women or we don't. Is this really about trusting? Is it really that simple? Maybe it's about the intersection of two sets of human rights: that of a viable fetus (a.k.a. a baby - we're not talking 12 weeks or even 25 weeks here) versus the mother. The article also doesn't present enough context: is this concerning a medical abortion or an elective abortion? Is there a philosophical difference between saying 'my third trimester baby is dying/very sick, it is more humane to abort' and 'I am carrying a healthy baby but I don't want to bring to term/become a mother'? Part of me says yes, there is a philosophical difference. But I want to be careful about my own prejudices.

When you say you don’t think this procedure should be available, I think what you meant is that you don’t believe women can or should be trusted to make their own decisions, or that you think there couldn’t be any possible reason for deciding to make such a choice at such a time (other than the people who do this must be monsters). But there are many, many reasons. Maybe all the stigma around abortion had you frozen in terror until then. Maybe you learned there was something terribly wrong with the fetus, something that would mean it wouldn’t live very long or that its life will be painful — and you don’t think you can handle it. Or, you wanted to get an abortion immediately, but because of the lack of access to a clinic or a provider, you had to wait to get the money together, or the child care, or the transportation. Maybe by the time you organized all of these things, you were already in your third trimester.

Being both realistic and compassionate is in order. Of course this might all be true: the stigma, the frozen-in-terror, the fetus-in-suffering (here the author seems to confuse the categories: with what kind of termination are we dealing here?) And a compassionate medical and legislative community should consider these factors. OTOH, you also have to be realistic. As adults, we expect to move through the world with a measure of autonomy and responsibility. Is it unfair or cruel to assume that the large majority of women who want to abort are expected to finalize that procedure before the viable third trimester? (Of course, we can always think of exceptions - trauma, distress, financial constraints, medical knowledge etc - and we should accommodate them.)

I know what you’re going to say — that if you get to the third trimester, you should just have to give birth, no matter what. That’s where you and I depart, likely to the point of no return. I don’t think a woman should ever lose autonomy over her body. I don’t believe she should have to do anything with her body that she doesn’t want to do, and that includes being pregnant. And I don’t believe that there should be a point at which she loses that choice.

Well, this is the hot potato, isn't it? The bolded sentences has me both cheering and confused. I want to believe that that's true. But how about the viable fetus inside? Can we be pro-choice and also consider its rights? At what point do you stop/start being pro-choice? I am genuine confused. I believe EVERYONE should have full autonomy over their bodies (and reproductive functions) but where do you draw the line. Does the fetus not have autonomy also? I know this is sketchy and that it may launch into very dangerous 'personhood' territory. So help a sister out :)

As we’ve seen in the last year, and well before, it’s not a far fall from the notion that all abortion should be illegal to declaring contraception unpalatable, to believing and perpetuating extreme and wrong ideas about rape. I often hear people say things like, “Well, abortion is fine, as long as it’s not used as birth control†(abortion IS birth control, everybody) or “Abortion is okay for other people, but I would never have one.†These types of comments drive me insane because they’re clear proof of how the stigma of abortion has reached even folks who believe in the integrity of women’s bodily autonomy. And so, dear friend, when you asked me your question, I fell into that trap myself. I was afraid to say what I believed, and I was afraid to believe it.

We’re not going to agree, you and I. Because this isn’t about sweet, chubby, vulnerable babies. This isn’t about friends, and it isn’t about being liked. It’s about whether or not we really believe all women are worthy and entitled to being seen as fully human individuals with complicated lives and the discernment to know what is best for themselves, and to be trusted to make that decision, without coercion or stigma.

Excellent point about the birth control. It's controlling an blastocyst/embryo/fetus (whatever stage of development) from being born. Maybe we could un-muddy the waters by calling contraceptives contraceptives - as in, they prevent conception :)

Another excellent point about combatting the stigma of abortion. I might not approve of every life decision another human being makes but that doesn't mean that I a) have to legislate against it, b) try to stop them c) judge and stigmatize them. I'm an anti-smoking fundamentalist and I don't go harassing people over that either :)

She writes that it isn't about 'sweet, chubby babies'. Is that accurate, I wonder? Viable, third trimester fetuses may or may not be sweet and chubby and that part is irrelevant. But when is a baby a baby?

I hope y'all can help me think this stuff through. Part of this is personal, to be sure. I was a preemie and I am currently pregnant. The latter may make me cranky but I'd like to think I can still sort out the intellectual and moral issues with a degree of mental clarity. But to think that I could have been aborted when I survived just fine adds a harrowing personal dimension to an already difficult debate.

I do applaud the author for her openness and bravery. Only by discussing these issues sensitively can we work them through - as individuals and as a society.

Thanks for reading :) Don't flame me please :)

P.S. A bonus: an inspiring article on (Jewish) clergy helping women get safe abortions before Roe vs. Wade!

http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blo ... s-illegal/

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I do not support a restriction on elective abortion at 38 weeks.

1) Almost all of the same justifications in support of such a restriction can be used to also support restricting abortion at earlier points in the pregnancy.

2) At the very least, it would have to be shown that any method of delivery of a live child is safer for the mother than an abortion. Even if it's just slightly safer for a woman to have an abortion at 38 weeks than deliver a live child, then she has the right to choose the safer option for herself.

3) What happens to the child after birth? I would never wish to force a woman to adopt out a child if she doesn't want to. Frankly, if I ever experienced an unwanted pregnancy I'd absolutely choose abortion. I do not feel comfortable adopting out a child.

However, all this is academic anyway as I don't think I believe there's ever been a case of a woman wanting elective abortion at 38 weeks, unless maybe the woman didn't realize she was pregnant until that point.

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Thanks for pitching in, Valsa. Sure, I also think it's academic (hence the title 'Thought Experiment') but it's interesting to think through the issues.

I think 2) is a very important point you make. 1) and 3) could be argued against, I think. 1) because earlier points in the pregnancy where the fetus is not yet viable allow for a real philosophical and medical distinction (I think) and 3) because technically you could argue that the rights to life for a viable fetus trumps the woman's discomfort/trauma of adopting out.

Again, this stuff is very personal, I acknowledge that. And I hope that I don't come across as judgmental. Thanks for your input.

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1) because earlier points in the pregnancy where the fetus is not yet viable allow for a real philosophical and medical distinction (I think)

I disagree with this. A fetus that is, say, 37 weeks and 6 days is really not distinctly different from a fetus that is 38 weeks.

because technically you could argue that the rights to life for a viable fetus trumps the woman's discomfort/trauma of adopting out.

Unless you have the same view as me that there is no fetal "right to life".

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Is an abortion at 38 weeks even practical? I thought delivering a dead fetus is harder and riskier for the mother (baby can't turn)? And taking it out piece by piece by like you do a younger fetus doesn't seem like a option either. Fetuses at 38 weeks are much bigger with stronger skeletons.

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Im not sure what to think of that...

Obviously, if the abortion is for medical reasons, like that something was wrong with the fetus, there shouldnt be a limit, it would be cruel to force someone to carry a pregnancy to term knowing the baby will die hours after birth, and cruel on the baby to be born to suffer and die young.

If the fetus is healthy, I am not sure. I dont think that this would really happen anyway, as most people who want to abort do it as early on as possible, and not wait til theyre due to give birth any day and then abort. That sort of thing only happens in fundies imaginations.

At 38 weeks, thats full term. I imagine theres not much difference between having an abortion at that stage and giving birth. It would still have to come out somehow, so why not give birth seeing as the resulting baby would be completely healthy and able to survive on its own. It would be different if the fetus was sort of viable (there have been babies born at less than 24 weeks and survived, the youngest is apparently 21 weeks and 5 days, but its incredibly rare), as it probably wouldnt live and would probably have special needs, which may be a disadvantage in it getting adopted, and it would also be unfair on the mother to carry it to term just because if it was born now it would have a tiny little chance of living.

I think the cut off point where it is, is fine.

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I disagree with this. A fetus that is, say, 37 weeks and 6 days is really not distinctly different from a fetus that is 38 weeks.

Unless you have the same view as me that there is no fetal "right to life".

Sorry, I should have clarified: I meant viable versus non-viable, so 20 weeks (non-viable) versus 24 weeks (borderline) or 38 weeks. Not between 37 weeks 6 days or 38 weeks because obviously, you're right, there's no significant distinction.

Re: fetal 'right to life' - well, that's exactly the quandary in which I find myself. I'm inclined to believe in fetal 'right to life' from the viable period onward. I'd also like to think of myself as 'pro-choice' (given that the very large majority of abortions take place during the first and second - non-viable - trimester of pregnancy) but am trying to sort out the distinctions in my head. Perhaps we have to accept (or agree to disagree) that there are shades of grey in the pro-choice camp.

Again, I'm no expert on the matter and this is the first time where I am confronted with the question of a hypothetical 38 week abortion. There you go, one lives and learns :)

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Honestly, yes, I think it comes down to whether or not we trust women. Of course I'm squeamish, even slightly horrified at the idea of an "elective" abortion at 38 weeks, but no matter what, I think that I shouldn't be the one having that conversation. It's not my health, my family, or my conscience on the line. It really comes down to that I trust women to be able to make moral decisions.

I know women who've had abortions, and they've all been for "real" reasons. Financial hardships, children too close together, and needing to finish college in order to be able to support a family later are all "real" reasons. The term "elective abortion" itself makes me angry because it implies that women's goals and concerns outside of their bodily integrity aren't real and don't matter.

So to answer your question, *I* would not have an abortion at 38 weeks. Any of my family and friends that asked my advice, I would certainly strongly suggest that they consider adoption at 38 weeks. Banning abortion at 38 weeks? I'm absolutely sure that's not my call.

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Im not sure what to think of that...

Obviously, if the abortion is for medical reasons, like that something was wrong with the fetus, there shouldnt be a limit, it would be cruel to force someone to carry a pregnancy to term knowing the baby will die hours after birth, and cruel on the baby to be born to suffer and die young.

If the fetus is healthy, I am not sure. I dont think that this would really happen anyway, as most people who want to abort do it as early on as possible, and not wait til theyre due to give birth any day and then abort. That sort of thing only happens in fundies imaginations.

At 38 weeks, thats full term. I imagine theres not much difference between having an abortion at that stage and giving birth. It would still have to come out somehow, so why not give birth seeing as the resulting baby would be completely healthy and able to survive on its own. It would be different if the fetus was sort of viable (there have been babies born at less than 24 weeks and survived, the youngest is apparently 21 weeks and 5 days, but its incredibly rare), as it probably wouldnt live and would probably have special needs, which may be a disadvantage in it getting adopted, and it would also be unfair on the mother to carry it to term just because if it was born now it would have a tiny little chance of living.

I think the cut off point where it is, is fine.

I'm with you, IloveJellyBeans. And sure, a scenario this extreme is the stuff of pro-lifers'/anti-choicers' imaginations. In that sense, I wonder how politically savvy it is to ask the question. Does it make us long bad? Callous? On the other hand, nothing should be taboo and anything should be open to discussion, I do really believe that.

Yes, why not deliver the baby by c-section and give it up for adoption? At that point, this seems like a less invasive procedure than an abortion. OTOH, since this is a theoretical exercise, getting bogged down on specifics may hinder the argument. Not sure.

And yes, the cut-off point is very fine...

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Honestly, yes, I think it comes down to whether or not we trust women. Of course I'm squeamish, even slightly horrified at the idea of an "elective" abortion at 38 weeks, but no matter what, I think that I shouldn't be the one having that conversation. It's not my health, my family, or my conscience on the line. It really comes down to that I trust women to be able to make moral decisions.

I know women who've had abortions, and they've all been for "real" reasons. Financial hardships, children too close together, and needing to finish college in order to be able to support a family later are all "real" reasons. The term "elective abortion" itself makes me angry because it implies that women's goals and concerns outside of their bodily integrity aren't real and don't matter.

So to answer your question, *I* would not have an abortion at 38 weeks. Any of my family and friends that asked my advice, I would certainly strongly suggest that they consider adoption at 38 weeks. Banning abortion at 38 weeks? I'm absolutely sure that's not my call.

Thanks Ellimenopy, for more food for thought :)

Agreed, the term 'elective' is deceptive. It really varies from person to person. As soon as I become sexually active, I made a personal commitment to try and stave off unwanted pregnancy by any means necessary (I've never had unprotected sex until TTC very recently!) because personally, I didn't want to face the moral quandary of abortion. Of course, I am lucky. I am an educated, middle-class woman who's been in healthy sexual relationships, who's never been co-erced, raped, poor, disempowered etc. And had access to safe and affordable contraception.

But as deceptive as 'elective' is - and it is because the flip side of 'elective' is 'stigma' and 'judgment' - surely, there is a gradient in the kinds of abortions women get and the reasons women get them? Women, just like men, are members of the human species who can behave both irresponsibly and responsibly. And this applies to a whole range of medical issues. (Let's take smoking as a poor example). Of course, I would never argue that this should lead to stigmatization but I do want to ask a confused and hypothetical question about individual responsibility and how this intersects with the concept of elective abortion.

I think 'it's not my call' is an important aspect to the discussion. Would I think it unwise that someone smoked heavily all their life and contracted an illness because of it? Yes. Would I deny them medical treatment because of it? Absolutely not. I know the example doesn't quite line up for various reasons, but still.

Of course, if (and I do say if) there is such thing as a 'fetal right to life', then this mitigates (up to varying degrees, perhaps) the 'it's not my call' issue. Because then it becomes a battle of different rights and interests.

Thanks for thinking along with me :)

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It's an interesting question, because it makes you realize that it's not black and white. 38 weeks is nearly full term, and while endowing the baby with legal personhood at that stage can lead to bad things, they do arguably have rights that a 1st or 2nd trimester fetus does not have since their cerebral cortex is, without a doubt, fully functional. They still don't have the right to trespass inside anyone's uterus against their wishes, but because they're full term, their life no longer depends on staying in the person's uterus, and they can be removed with minimal ill effects.

It's cut and dry at 20 weeks. Fetus is about as likely to be conscious as a cactus, so no rights to speak of. Yet even if you think it should have rights, it doesn't get the right to trespass in someone else's uterus without their consent, yet doesn't have a chance of living outside.

It's not as clear at all gestational ages past viability. A 27 week fetus can be delivered with a certain chance of survival, but not without quite a bit of suffering, and not with good prospects for their quality of life. So if someone doesn't want to be pregnant at 27 weeks, can they be forced to stay pregnant? Well, they can and are, but it violates their rights. If the fetus is killed, that violates whatever rights you want to attribute to something viable and possibly able to feel pain but still in utero. Obvious answer is to deliver right then and there. But then there's the question of whether it's humane or ethical to deliver a preemie on purpose, and what will happen to these preemies being surrendered to the State? Huge grey area, there.

But when you think of it, even at 38 weeks, it's not black and white. There are situations where the pregnant person's ability to give birth without dying or sustaining serious injury is in conflict with the baby's ability to get out alive. There are situations like treemom's where the humaneness of giving birth to a live baby is questionable. All this grey is why it's important for decisions like these to be left up to the person who's pregnant.

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I support as few restrictions as possible on abortion and, honestly, I don't think there should be any cut off. That might be rather extreme, but there you have it.

If you start restricting abortion it is an arbitrary measure no matter when you do it. Where do you draw the line? If you pick viability as the point that is a moving target as new medical technologies push that date further and further back. DO you pick 21 weeks and 5 days because that is the earliest surviving pregnancy or do you pick a more realistic (though completely arbitrary measure) of 24, 25, or 26 weeks? How do you choose that cut off and who chooses it? Is it really fair to deny a woman an abortion coming in one day past that limit? One week? One month?

I'm also uncomfortable with drawing a line and then putting in exceptions to the rule. Who decides if the mother's life is in danger? How "in danger" does her life have to be? Who gets to decide how much a woman or foetus is suffering before an abortion is allowable? I think this just gives people room to push their agenda.

Finally, I don't think it is simple to say, even at 38 weeks, just give the baby up for adoption. Not every woman wants to go through that and not every baby can and will be adopted.

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Thanks, Minerva and Boogalou, for sharing your perspectives and for doing it more eloquently than I did :)

I guess I am not as 'extreme' as you, Boogalou, although I see the philosophical soundness of your reasoning. Minerva, I liked your dichotomy of 'right to life' versus 'tresspassing of the uterus'. It clarifies things more for me, I think.

Boogalou, you raise the exact quandaries that I anticipated. If we develop to gestate a 12-week fetus in an artificial womb, what impact would/could/should that have on abortion legislation? Technology will continue to open up these cans of worms.

On the other hand, just because the lines are blurry and difficult to draw, doesn't mean we should be sensitive to the underlying issues. I am still morally uncomfortable (to say the least) with the 38 week premise of elective (whatever that means) abortion. Of course, situations of health and suffering are different, like Treemom.

Ironically (or perhaps not) I am quite lenient on issues of euthanasia because this is a question of autonomy. An adult should be able to decide whether he or she wants to live or die. Of course there are HUGE issues - social issues - that complicate this. (I.e. elderly poverty, loneliness etc) and euthanasia can only be 'pure' if all the other social conditions are met (taking care of the elderly, giving them dignified life options and support systems etc).

Again, if we're going to muddy the waters more... how about post-partum euthanasia? There might be cases where babies are born with such severe illnesses or syndromes that the parents have to decide on denying treatment or even actively euthanizing. Then the autonomy issue comes up again because then it is an autonomous human (the parent) making a decision for a non-autonomous human (the baby).

Thanks, all.

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I am pro choice but really I guess I am pro choice until the point of viability, 24-25 weeks. Like the first poster, unless the mothers life is in danger I just cannot justify it. Just give birth to a live baby and give it up. But I do understand the argument that a woman either has full autonomy or not and the whole trust thing.....

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I do agree that it is a difficult area to have any sort of opinion on because of the pro-choice/anti-choice debate. The argument that abortion ought to be outlawed because of the personhood because of the developing embryo/fetus often garners responses that the developing human is not yet a person. When focusing on those arguments, it's harder to say that women ought to be able choose abortion at 37 weeks. But however developed the fetus may be, the involvement of women's bodies does not change. Should a woman have autonomy over her body or must she be induced under specific circumstances?

I consider myself pro-choice, and the thought of late term abortions does make me uneasy. But if it makes me uneasy, how much harder it must be for women living that particular hell facing that decision.

In my opinion it's far better to direct energy into things like sex education, easily accessible birthcontrol, higher living standards, wage equality, etc. rather than laws limiting women's options, so that rather than being forced into a path, women can avoid the dilemma altogether.

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I do agree that it is a difficult area to have any sort of opinion on because of the pro-choice/anti-choice debate. The argument that abortion ought to be outlawed because of the personhood because of the developing embryo/fetus often garners responses that the developing human is not yet a person. When focusing on those arguments, it's harder to say that women ought to be able choose abortion at 37 weeks. But however developed the fetus may be, the involvement of women's bodies does not change. Should a woman have autonomy over her body or must she be induced under specific circumstances?

I consider myself pro-choice, and the thought of late term abortions does make me uneasy. But if it makes me uneasy, how much harder it must be for women living that particular hell facing that decision.

In my opinion it's far better to direct energy into things like sex education, easily accessible birthcontrol, higher living standards, wage equality, etc. rather than laws limiting women's options, so that rather than being forced into a path, women can avoid the dilemma altogether.

Amen. And I thank my lucky stars that I had the luxury of that empowerment.

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This is definitly a complicated issue. Although I know the "right" answer is that it's the woman's choice, I honestly am not sure that i could support the decision to abort a full-term baby unless it was for a medical reason. 2nd trimester abortions are still a bit sticky for me, but I can support them a lot more than I can support a 3rd trimester abortion.

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Sunnichick, I hope you don't mind me asking because I don't want to make this all about 'OMG you are a Muslim!11!1 Let's hear the Islamic perspective!1!' because that is reductionist of who you are as a person but I did blabber off something in another thread (the Doug Anti-Abortion thread) about Islamic perspectives on abortion. Before I put my foot in it, could you enlighten us on the spectrum of opinions in Islamic jurisprudence and the community?

I was referring to abortions to save a mother's life, specifically.

Thank you!

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First, as it exists now getting an abortion at 38 weeks would be incredibly difficult.

In theory, I don't support restrictions because it suddenly means abortion isn't about medical privacy.

Also, the other thing is, I think that the late term abortions are a red herring in the discussion of abortions. They always get mentioned by people because of the sort of stomach churning thoughts it can set off. But in reality, even if they were offered on demand at 38 weeks you just are not going to find a ton of people who want them. Women who abort because they don't want a child or feel ill equipped to have a child are unlikely to wait 30 weeks more than they need to to terminate.

And all the other women? Well I suppose everyone can guess my feelings there. As so many of you know this is a road I walked so these discussions are immensely personal to me. It is hard from me to disconnect from the reality of why women choose abortions when they do and the reality of procuring them. Elective abortions at 38 weeks are outliers.

As always I questions myself getting involved in these threads...especially in the last few weeks where there have been so many comments about me. I don't want people to think I "concern troll" and make everything about me. But in this instance I have personal experience in having a late term abortion. I don't know...maybe I shouldn't.

ETA: I realized after I posted this that I was pretty Ameri-centric in this...but as far as I know there are few, if any places where the theory we are discussing happens in practice.

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Treemom, thank you for pitching in. I hope I haven't written anything offensive or triggering.

I am not fully aware of the details of your story. I read part of the thread in Ask Me Anything, but I couldn't find details beyond the very basics. I don't want to talk about it more here if you're not comfortable, so it's your call.

Even if I may have my opinions (which I do), I started this thread because I am open to changing my mind and being informed (which I am). And I have no shame claiming ignorance on this issue (again, which I am). For me this is a learning experience and it's personal too - albeit to a lesser degree as you, of course! - because I was a preemie myself. And quite a bit earlier than 38 weeks!

Again, you have to do what's right for you - if you don't want to get involved in this thread, don't feel you must. Up to now, the discourse has been very civilized and I hope that regardless of our individual views on the matter, it stays that way. I know that sounds patronizing or handslapping but it's not meant as such. It's a sincere wish to engage with a contentious issue in a compassionate way.

Thanks again.

ETA: riffles.

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Sunnichick, I hope you don't mind me asking because I don't want to make this all about 'OMG you are a Muslim!11!1 Let's hear the Islamic perspective!1!' because that is reductionist of who you are as a person but I did blabber off something in another thread (the Doug Anti-Abortion thread) about Islamic perspectives on abortion. Before I put my foot in it, could you enlighten us on the spectrum of opinions in Islamic jurisprudence and the community?

I was referring to abortions to save a mother's life, specifically.

Thank you!

Islamically it is frowned upon, but if it's going to be done, it should be done in the first 140 days, because after that the soul is given to the fetus.

Of course if it is done to save the mother's life or for a valid medical reason, then it is acceptable because the life of the mother (who already has responsabilities, a family, etc.) is more important than the life of the fetus.

My personal opinion is that i don't like abortion, but I will support the woman's decision in the first and second trimester (although liek I said before, the 2nd is a little uncomfortable for me.) but I don't like the idea of a 3rd trimester abortion unless it is for a medical reason.

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An "elective" abortion at 38 weeks virtually never happens. Late term abortions are pretty much entirely due to something being horribly wrong with the baby. Generally, if the mother's health is at risk then the baby is delivered early. But I'll play along and pretend the woman has some sort of mental illness and wants to harm her full term fetus just for fun.

If the woman wants an abortion that late she would have to find a doctor to preform the abortion. I believe that she would have a very hard time finding a doctor who would be willing to preform the abortion. If this woman is truly hell bent on harming the fetus then who's to say that she won't throw herself out of a window or down some stairs? Or maybe she'd have the baby out of the hospital and either leave it for dead it or kill it herself. Denying the abortion isn't going to "save the baby" unless we're keeping the woman in some sort of institutionalized setting to protect the baby. And if we're okay doing that at 38 weeks then we open up a whole can of worms.

Finally, we have to consider whether this is this something that is going to happen often enough for it to be a law of its own. I don't believe so. If we're really this concerned that the average woman would terminate at 38 weeks for shits and giggles then we shouldn't be leaving newborn babies with mothers alone until after they pass a psych eval.

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Honestly, yes, I think it comes down to whether or not we trust women. Of course I'm squeamish, even slightly horrified at the idea of an "elective" abortion at 38 weeks, but no matter what, I think that I shouldn't be the one having that conversation. It's not my health, my family, or my conscience on the line. It really comes down to that I trust women to be able to make moral decisions.

I know women who've had abortions, and they've all been for "real" reasons. Financial hardships, children too close together, and needing to finish college in order to be able to support a family later are all "real" reasons. The term "elective abortion" itself makes me angry because it implies that women's goals and concerns outside of their bodily integrity aren't real and don't matter.

So to answer your question, *I* would not have an abortion at 38 weeks. Any of my family and friends that asked my advice, I would certainly strongly suggest that they consider adoption at 38 weeks. Banning abortion at 38 weeks? I'm absolutely sure that's not my call.

OT, but --

The term elective does not bother me because it is the term generally used for medically unnecessary (but ideal, desirable, beneficial, etc.) surgeries. I don't find it dismissive at all.

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I think my problem with this thought experiment is that it feeds into the "irresponsible woman" trope so beloved by anti choicers. I suppose it's possible that there is a woman out there who is ok with abortion, has the funds and access to medical care to obtain an abortion, and who suddenly wakes up one morning at 38 weeks and says "golly, I don't want to be pregnant anymore!" So we must limit access to third trimester abortion to prevent this one mythical woman from obtaining an abortion at 38 weeks on a whim.

It is far more likely that a woman in this situation is very young, or of diminished capacity, or very poor or otherwise has restricted access to care, and the bigger issue is not that she may want an abortion at 38 weeks, but that for whatever reason an abortion far earlier in the pregnancy was not an option. The other problem with this thought experiment is that it has the practical result of eliminating access to third trimester abortions for women like Treemom or women who's health will be compromised by giving birth. When we don't trust women to make their own medical choices because of the fear that they will make supposedly "irresponsible" choices, then you have effectively eliminated actual choice for women.

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Yes, Treemom, you covered it well. At least in the county where I live, concern over a 38 week abortion is purely an academic philosophic discussion. Practically speaking it won't happen because we don't have any physicians who will perform one that late. In fact, it's a bit tough to get one past 13 weeks here. We have a very few doctors who will go up to 18 weeks and possibly 20 for patients already in their practice and then more than likely only if a problem has shown up through lab testing or ultrasound. There is one OB who will do later abortions for conditions such as Treemom faced if referred by their OB although he has a cut-off well before 38 weeks.

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